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L5/S1 disectomy post surgery confusion

Good morning, I've been a lurker here for over a year reading and educating myself on spine issues/treatments/expectations with my own diagnosis.  A year ago I was diagnosed with a herniated disc pressing on the right nerve which was the cause of my severe back and right leg pain.  The suggested treatment was surgery since my pain was severe and had been growing for 2 years, so in May 2017 I had a microdiscectomy.  After the surgery things felt better but not as good as I had hoped they would.  Dr encouraged me that the nerve damage could take time to heal and it would be a long process.  I went through the summer and Autumn seasons exercising and trying to be as active as possible but it kept feeling that my back and leg pain we're getting worse and not better.  Went back to the Dr and got another MRI to see what's going on.  The MRI results showed the same herniated disc pushing on the nerve on the right side of my spine and scar tissue on the left side.  The Dr tried to tell me that it was my left side before but that went nowhere.

So now I'm confused.  With the scar tissue on the MRI being on the left does that mean they operated on the wrong side?  If so what do I do now?  Do I keep going to this Dr or is it time to find a new one?  I'm very discouraged at this point.



  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 451

    Have you been to any physio- or osteo- therapy since the surgery?  I found them both to be very helpful in loosening scar tissue.  1 yr post-surgery MRI showed scar tissue as a possible reason for my renewed discomfort, but 3 yr post-surgical MRI shows no scar tissue!  I was also advised to massage castor oil on scar area.  It is easily absorbed into the deeper tissue and helps soften the scar tissue and makes it more pliable.  A good therapist can help break it up.  I know this isn't exactly what you're asking about, but maybe it will help?  What was explained to me at my 1 yr post-surgery MRI was that the discectomy is not nearly always as successful as we would hope.  It's very hard to get in to that space (surgically through the back -posterior) and get all of the offending tissue removed, most times it is only the really severely impinging stuff that they can reach and get out.  So that might account for why the MRI doesn't look that much different aside from the scar tissue.  Maybe there was a misunderstanding with your dr in his explanation.  But if it seems like he's not accurate in recalling details or misinforming you, then seeking another opinion seems warranted.  

  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 1,493

    sounds like you need a second opinion....it's not difficult to tell left from right on an MRI, and for them to fix the correct side....just to be sure. 

    Scar tissue can definitely cause increased pain.  I'm getting massage and they're breaking up scar tissue and adhesions from my long fusion (10 levels) and while it is not pleasant it is working at helping the sciatic pain in my leg that persisted after the surgery. 

    Veritas-Health Moderator
    Dec '16 T10-S2 fusion with pelvic fixation. Laminectomies L2, L3, L4, L5, facet removal, cages L4-5, L5-S1, severe scoliosis, arthritis and stenosis repair. 

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